By Darío Avila
On 11/28/2007, the National Congress passed the minimum budget law No. 26,331, which established the framework of environmental protection for the enrichment, restoration, conservation, use and sustainable management of native forests, and of the environmental services that they provide to society (Art. 1), pursuing the following objectives:
- a) Promote conservation through the Territorial Organization of Native Forests and the regulation of the expansion of the agricultural frontier and any other change in land use;
- b) Implement the necessary measures to regulate and control the decrease in the area of existing native forests, tending to achieve a lasting area over time;
- c) Improve and maintain ecological and cultural processes in native forests that benefit society;
- d) Make the precautionary and preventive principles prevail, maintaining native forests whose environmental benefits or the environmental damages that their absence generates, cannot yet be demonstrated with the techniques available today;
- e) Encourage enrichment, conservation, restoration, improvement and sustainable management activities of native forests. (Art. 3).
It set a maximum term of one (1) year from the date of its sanction (11/28/2007) so that - through a participatory process - each jurisdiction could carry out the Management of the Native Forests existing in its territory, according to the "sustainability criteria"Established in the Annex of the law, and in accordance with the following"conservation categories”(Category I - red; Category II yellow; Category III - green) based on the environmental value of the different units of native forest and the environmental services they provide. 6).
Once the term established in the previous article has expired, "Jurisdictions that have not carried out their Territorial Ordinance of Native Forests may not authorize clearing or any other type of use and exploitation of native forests”. 7)
The same attitude (prohibition of clearing) should be observed, during the time between the enactment of the law and the realization of the Territorial Ordinance of Native Forests. (Art.8). None of this was respected by the Government of the Province of Córdoba, which continued to authorize and / or allow clearing. On June 5, 2008, through provincial decree No. 848, the Provincial Executive Power appointed the Environment Secretariat as the authority to enforce Law 26,331.
Said Secretariat issued resolution No. 328, creating the “Program and Process of Territorial Planning of Native Forests in the Province of Córdoba”.
The Commission was definitively formed on November 24, 2008, only four days before the expiration of the term established by national law for carrying out the ordinance.
In October 2009, the COTBN proposal (which was debated in seven provincial workshops and over a period of 2 years) began to be discussed in the Legislature of the Province of Córdoba. After a series of participatory instances, which continue the following year, on July 27, 2010, a group of legislators presented the work agreed to in the “Ecological Affairs Commission”- Chaired by legislator Falo-. Finally, on August 4, 2010, project 5662 / L / 2010 is dealt with, however a content agreed between the majority blocks is approved one night before the session, which included the sectoral interests of FAA, CARTEZ, Rural Society, etc. . as reflected in the proposal formulated - by the President of the Bloque de Unión por Córdoba - Daniel Paserini - when stating: “Mr. President: before the legislators begin with the substantiation of the bills under treatment, I want to inform you and to the Plenary that our bloc, together with the blocks of the Radical Civic Union, the Neighborhood Action Movement, the Federal Neighborhood Union, the Patriotic Movement, the PRO and other legislators belonging to other blocs, has reached a consensus that allowed us to prepare a dispatch common that is proposed as the majority office of the Chamber in committee.
The dispatch was duly presented to the Legislative Secretariat and a copy has been delivered to each of the legislators for their information.
In addition, it should be clarified that the text of the dispatch was prepared on the basis of all the work carried out by the Committee on Ecological Affairs, which has been extensive, deep, fully participatory and rich in contributions.
In turn, legislators from different blocks that do not belong to the aforementioned commission have had an active participation due to their concern on the subject, having also contributed in the final drafting of the project that we present. From the reading of the proposed dispatch, it can be seen that it maintains a high percentage of the letter contained in the drafts of the project prepared by the Ecological Affairs Commission. For the above reasons, Mr. President, I request that the aforementioned office be submitted to this House for consideration ”.
Finally, with the presence of 57 legislators, (26th ordinary session) –and under the Presidency of Sergio Busso- provincial law N ° 9814 of territorial ordering of native forests is sanctioned (with 51 votes in favor: namely, UPC Block; Block UCR; Federal Neighborhood Union: José Maiocco; PRO: Raúl Albarracín; Patriotic Movement: José Villena; Neighborhood Action Movement: Kasem Dandach; Legislators of the Civic Front: Eduardo Bischoff, Rodrigo Serna, César Seculini and Esmeralda Rodríguez) This law has been subject to of innumerable criticisms by social and environmental organizations, university professionals, researchers, etc .; not only for having departed from the original project elaborated -in a participatory manner- by the COTBN specially constituted by means of a Resolution of the provincial enforcement authority, but also for not having respected the “sustainability criteria"Established in the Annex of the national law of minimum budgets nor the different"conservation categories”, Allowing –among others- the development of activities expressly prohibited by the aforementioned law.
Finally, and what is even more serious, the provincial law was enacted when the deadline for carrying out the aforementioned legislative act had already expired a year and a half ago (Art. 6 law 26,331), which in fact meant the possibility to "extend" the period of "prohibition to dismount" (1 year) expressly contemplated in the aforementioned law (Articles 7 and 8).
The COTBN reported that of the 12 million hectares of forests originally owned by the province (71 % of its territory), at the time of the enactment of Law 26,331, in 2007, only about 800,000 hectares remained (the 5%) in patches larger than 1,000 hectares distributed as follows: 4,7 % in the Chaqueño Park (3.8 from Bosque Chaqueño Occidental, in the northwest; 0,6 % from the Eastern Chaqueño Forest; 0,36 % of Eastern Serrano Forest) and less 0,15 % of Espinal.
The loss of forests in the province of Córdoba was mainly due to clearing for agricultural use, but also as a consequence of fires, many of which were of anthropic origin to enable land for crops and pastures for livestock.
Therefore, assigning the events that occurred in Sierras Chicas to the designs or punishments of nature, it is important to dilute the exclusive and only responsibility that falls to them and falls to the different public officials with competence on the matter, when legislating and applying the regulations in favor of sectoral interests that have nothing to do with the general welfare.
They are solely responsible and must answer for that.